A whopping eight amateurs earned full status on the LPGA at the new Q-Series, including seven hotshot collegians. It’s an unprecedented number that will change the face of more than a few college teams.
But not in the case of Wake Forest and Arkansas. Jennifer Kupcho, the 2018 NCAA champ, says she’s returning to complete her communications degree at Wake Forest next semester. Kupcho finished in solo second at 17-under 559 on Saturday, one stroke behind winner Jeongeun Lee of South Korea.
“I’ve been working so hard at Wake,” said Kupcho. “I’m not just going to throw three and a half years of work out.”
Maria Fassi also plans to return for her final semester at Arkansas for the chance to help the Razorbacks win the NCAA Championship on home soil. Fassi finished 32nd at the eight-round event, where the top 45 and ties earned Category 14 status.
“Most people are questioning my decision and telling me that it’s not a smart thing to do,” said Fassi. “They’re like oh you’re going miss this many tournaments and money or whatever.
But I think that the tour is not going to go anywhere … there’s a time and place for everything. I think I’d be rushing it if I do something different than going back to school.”
With the LPGA’s new provision that allows amateurs to defer status, several players aren’t exactly sure what the future holds. (Players used to have a matter of minutes to make a decision on whether or not they wanted to turn professional to accept an LPGA card.)
Colorado’s Robyn Choi and her family were glued to live scoring Saturday evening as she sat on the cutline in a tie for 45th. Choi opened up the eight-round marathon with back-to-back 79s but rallied to earn one of the final cards.
Choi said she’d have to find out exactly how many events she’d likely get in before June in order to make the decision to stay in college one more semester or defer. Her immediate plans: Get on a plane Sunday bound for Hawaii for what could be her last college event.
Ohio State’s Jaclyn Lee had a far less stressful finish, birdieing her final hole to finish solo sixth. Lee said she’d try to make a decision in the next couple weeks about what comes next.
“I have to go through my list of pros and cons and figure out what’s best for me at the moment,” she said.
Alabama’s Lauren Stephenson and Kristen Gillman have it figured out. Both are heading straight to the professional ranks. It’s a massive blow to the Tide, who set an NCAA tournament record for team score vs. par earlier this fall and were ranked No. 1 for much of the season.
UCLA’s Patty Tavatanakit was the only player who received an exemption into Q-Series by way of finishing in the top five of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings who didn’t finish in the top 45. Tavatanakit, one of the most talented amateurs in the world, said her heart wasn’t into it at Pinehurst because she wanted to go back to college to finish her sophomore year.
“The tour is going to be there,” she said, “but not my college experience.”
Lilia Vu, a UCLA senior, will graduate with a degree in political science next quarter. After a sluggish start in North Carolina, Vu caught fire in the final round, carding a final-round 67 to vault into a share of 27th. Vu plans to forgo her final semester as a Bruin to join the LPGA.